The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today the nationwide distribution of more than $45 million to states under the 2015 State Wildlife Grant Program. Of this amount, more than $3 million will be disbursed to Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Hawaii, Guam and American Samoa to help prevent “Species of Special Concern” from becoming threatened, endangered, or extinct. These Congressionally authorized funds will build partnerships and engage community support to accomplish a shared conservation mission within and across state boundaries.
“The State Wildlife Grant Program has made a significant impact by preventing the need to list species under the Endangered Species Act,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “The program identifies the highest priorities in each state to effectively conserve and protect species on a large landscape scale.”
The SWG program awards grants for projects that implement strategies to conserve priority species contained in approved State Wildlife Action Plans. All 50 states and territorial wildlife agencies have such plans, which collectively provide a nationwide blueprint for actions to conserve rare species, such as the monarch butterfly, for future generations.
“We appreciate the strong ties formed by state agencies and their partners to protect wildlife species and their habitats,” said Hannibal Bolton, the Service’s assistant director for Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration. “These partnerships are critical to the on-the-ground success of saving wildlife and job creation.”
A prime example of how SWG funding supports wildlife conservation in Washington can be found in the Western Gray Squirrel Surveys. The western gray squirrel is a species of greatest conservation need in the Pacific Northwest, having been listed as a threatened species in 1993. This project will develop population assessment techniques for the squirrel across the three recovery zones in the state while obtaining better information on the distribution of the species. Conducting surveys and data collection will provide valuable information on where the species is found, what type of habitat is required for the species and what management techniques will best support this imperiled species.
The State of Oregon has used their SWG funds to study the effects of wind, solar, geothermal, natural gas development within the state. Energy development affects wildlife directly through physical displacement or mortality, and indirectly through habitat degradation, loss, and fragmentation. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has identified species of greatest conservation need and identified wildlife species that may be negatively impacted by energy development, referred to as its Energy Priority Wildlife List. This project focuses on baseline information for Hoary/silver-haired bats, Greater sage-grouse, and Ferruginous hawk.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will focused on the revision of Idaho’s State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) to reduce, eliminate, and/or mitigate negative impacts to wildlife populations, which could result from changes associated with their actions. This group of projects will focused on distribution, presence/absence, vital rates and habitat requirements for a range species, including bobcat, fisher, lynx, marten, wolverine, Townsend’s big eared bat, American white pelicans, Greater sage-grouse (SGCN), sharp-tailed grouse, bald eagle, Idaho giant salamander, Columbia spotted frog, northern leopard frog, long nosed snake and Gillette’s checkerspot.
The grants are distributed through an apportionment formula in accordance with the Appropriations Act. These funds are allocated to states and territories based on population and geographic area.
Grant funds must be used to address conservation needs, such as research, wildlife surveys, species and habitat management, and monitoring, identified within a State’s Wildlife Action Plan. These funds may also be used to update, revise or modify a state’s plan.
For more information and a list of state, commonwealth and territory funding allocations, visit http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/GrantPrograms/SWG/SWG.htm.
Learn more about State Wildlife Grant Program accomplishments here: http://tracs.fws.gov/public/.